So, I really hate this fucking book.
We land smoothly at Sardy Field at 12:25 p.m. (MST).Damn. I can never catch a break.
"Good landing." Christian grins and shakes Stephan's hand as we get ready to file out of the jet.
"It's all about the density altitude, sir." Stephan smiles back. "Beighley here is good at math."I wish Beighley would have been good at science, instead, and then all of these characters would be dead now.
There is a silver lining, however, in that I can totally imagine Stephan as Stefon, dropping double entendres and maybe not-so-subtly wiping the corner of his mouth when he said the math thing.
"He's excellent at long division, Seth."
They get off the plane and into a minivan. Which surprises me, because it's not a gold-plated minivan, or a minivan studded with diamonds and full of BDSM gear or something. It's just a regular minivan, and Christian makes a joke about making out in the back of it.
I giggle. Who is this man, and what has he done with Mr. Unbelievably Angry of the last couple of days?I'm no psychologist, but that's not going to stop me from diagnosing Christian Grey with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
For some unfathomable reason I feel shy with him today. Why? Last night? Being with company? I can't put my finger on it.It's because you're used to being completely isolated with him, and now there are people around, so you don't know how to behave or what your role is supposed to be, and you're afraid you're going to be punished if you don't do everything exactly right. And gosh, I don't know where you got that idea from, when Chedward has been such a supportive and understanding partner so far.
Hey, have you ever overheard someone criticizing a piece of art by saying, "My kid could draw that?"
The trees are green, but a whisper of the coming fall is evident here and there in the yellowing tips of the leaves. The sky is a clear crystal blue, though there are darkening clouds to the west. All around us in the distance loom the Rockies, the highest peak directly ahead. They're lush and green, and the highest are capped with snow and look like a child's drawing of the mountains.
My kid could draw that.
I'm a bit confused at the description of Aspen mountain. Because as mountains go in the United States, it's not that big. It's probably not even in the top 100 tallest mountains we have. And it's certainly not the tallest of the Rocky Mountains. That's Mt. Elbert. And I'm not sure there's snow on Aspen mountain in the summer. Anyone from Aspen want to confirm or deny the presence of snow in August?
But the statement that it looks like a child's drawing is just so classically Ana. She cannot be impressed with anything. Ever.
We're in the winter playground of the rich and famous. And I own a house here. I can barely believe it. And from deep within my psyche, the familiar unease that's always present when I try to wrap my head around Christian's wealth looms and taunts me, making me feel guilty. What have I done to deserve this lifestyle? I've done nothing, nothing except fall in love.There's nothing I like more than a little Dutch Reform Protestantism in my poverty shaming porn. Let's talk some more about worldly wealth and how if you're not "deserving" of it, you should be ashamed to have it or aspire to it. This does not sound classist at all.
Ethan asks Ana if she's ever been to Aspen, and it turns out Kate and Ethan came there all the time as kids to go skiing.
"I'm hoping my husband will teach me how to ski." I glance up at my man.I struggle to hold back my vomit.
"Don't bet on it," Christian mutters.
"I won't be that bad!"
"You might break your neck." His grin gone.
Oh. I don't want to argue and sour his good mood, so I change the subject."Husband, I would like to do this activity that, while carrying a high amount of risk at advanced levels, is safe enough that a child can do it as a beginner. That's okay, right?" "NO! Now get back into your plastic bubble, and don't even think about standing and walking anywhere ever again. You might get a blister and my fragile psyche couldn't bear even the slightest injury to your person."
Yeah, that's totally sane, right?
On the car ride, Ana notices something not right about Kate's mood:
[...] Kate is quiet, and I wonder if she's brooding about Jack Hyde or something else. Then I remember. Aspen... Christian's house here was redesigned by Gia Matteo and rebuilt by Elliot. I wonder if that's what's preoccupying Kate.This paragraph really shows us how selfish and self-centered Ana is. She's making the assumption that Kate is as consumed by Christian Grey drama as Ana is. I can understand the thought that she might be concerned about Jack Hyde, since Elliot is affected and they were just talking about it on the plane. But seriously? Why would Kate be worried about Gia Matteo? Ana's taking it for granted that Kate is as threatened by this woman as Ana is, and that Kate is as insecure about the fidelity of her relationship as Ana is. The fact that Kate has just been treated with open rudeness and hostility by Christian doesn't cross Ana's mind; since she thinks Chedward is the most amazing person to ever live and because she's content to let him treat her like an underling, Kate will automatically share the same opinion. At this point, I can't tell if it's a coping method born from denial, or if Ana is just a horrible human being.
Ana asks Christian why he bought a place in Aspen:
"Mom and dad used to bring us here when we were kids. I learned to ski here, and I like the place. [...]""Ana, I just really want to drive the point home here. I don't think you're capable at age twenty-two to safely engage in an activity that I, the almighty Chedward, mastered as a child."
He also tells Ana that if she doesn't like the house, they'll just sell it and get another one. Remember how his brother, you know, built the place? And he's in the car with them while they're having this conversation? Just pointing that out.
They arrive at the house, there's a description of it, but all you really need to know is that it's modern and sleek like every other place Christian Grey has ever lived in/been to. I wonder if he sends someone ahead to the dentist's office to report back on whether or not it's minimalist enough for his tastes.
A woman comes out to greet them:
She's tiny and her raven-colored hair is dusted with gray.So, she's old, and therefore she may live without constant death glares and conflict over imagined slights from her new employer. Christian tells Ana that the housekeeper is Mrs. Bentley, and I double over laughing because he's a billionaire who drives an Audi and has a housekeeper named Bentley.
We learn that Mrs. Bentley and her husband live at the house in Aspen full time to take care of it. Why not, and this is a fucking crazy idea, just close up the house, get an alarm, pay a security company to check it out every now and then, and have Mr. and Mrs. Bentley open the house when you want to use it? I need to be in charge of managing Christian's finances, because it's a fucking vacation house. It's not Downton Abbey.
They go inside, and of course we have to hear how humble Ana is:
How much did this place cost? And I have contributed nothing to it. Briefly I'm transported back to the first time Christian took me to Escala. I was overwhelmed then. You got used to it, my subconscious hisses at me.I am getting so tired of this whole, "Oh, I'm so uncomfortable with wealth" bullshit from Ana. We already know that Kate's family is rich, and that Ana has benefited from that wealth. She lived rent free all through college because of it, and moved (briefly) into another free apartment because of it. She had no problem taking from Kate, even going so far as to borrow Kate's Mercedes and drive it super fast on the highway for fun. But Christian's wealth is somehow sacred. Why? I get a moment or two of, "Holy shit, this guy is super rich," when they get on the private jet or whatever. But at this point she's seen his house, he's bought her two cars, they've gone out on his sailboat, they spent weeks in France on a yacht, he bought her a house... why is she still bowled over by how rich he is?
My theory is that by having her subconscious snark at her about money, the author is trying to convince us that Ana is a "good person," since "good people" should be uncomfortable about money they didn't earn. Instead, it comes off like Ana has short-term memory loss: "What?! My husband is RICH?! How do I even deal with this?!"
Speaking of Ana's subconscious, I'm officially imagining these two as her subconscious and inner goddess:
Dame Sally's books are also infinitely better than this one.
Christian gives her a tour of the place, everything is marble this and sleek, modern that, and when he shows her the den and she sees the billiards table she gapes and blushes because OMG THEY ARE SO NAUGHTY AND SEXUALLY ADVENTUROUS THEY HAVE FUCKED ON A POOL TABLE BEFORE.
The master bedroom has a view of the mountain:
"That's Ajax Mountain... or Aspen Mountain, if you like.""Because I own it and can name it whatever I choose! If you don't like it, I'll knock it down and put up a rainforest instead! We'll level the whole town and fuck on any pool table we like! THE WORLD IS OURS!" Yes, I know locals call it Ajax, but I don't care. It's funnier to imagine our Master of The Universe renaming mountains as he pleases.
Ana is like, obsessed with Gia, because she brings her up again. I'm really starting to believe the theories about Ana's latent homosexuality you guys have come up with, because she cannot let Gia go in this chapter. She asks what she did to the house, and she asks if Christian knows that Elliot slept with her, which leads to another homophobic conversation. You know, since we haven't had one of those in a while:
"Elliot's fucked most of Seattle, Ana."
"Mainly women, I understand," Christian jokes. I think he's amused by my expression.
Christian nods. "It's none of my business." He holds his palms up.
"I don't think Kate knows."
"I'm not sure he broadcasts that information. Kate seems to be holding her own."
I'm shocked. Sweet, unassuming, blond, blue-eyed Elliot? I stare in disbelief.I can't even with this nonsense. First of all, why does Ana assume that Kate must not know about Elliot's sexual past or bisexuality? The thing about relationships that aren't with Christian Grey is, people talk to each other in them. Second, is Ana implying that if a woman finds out her guy is bisexual or has had sexual experiences with men in the past, that's an automatic break up? Third... what the hell does being blond and sweet have to do with anything? I didn't realize hair color had anything to do with sexuality.
Christian tilts his head to one side, scrutinizing me. "This can't just be about Gia's or Elliot's promiscuity."
"I know. I'm sorry. After all that's happened this week, it's just..." I shrug, feeling tearful all of a sudden.She's tearful after talking about Gia, this woman she's obsessed with, and Elliot being bisexual? Yup, you guys called it. Ana has some major confusion over her own sexuality.
"I know. I'm sorry, too. Let's relax and enjoy ourselves, okay? You can stay here and read, watch god-awful TV, [...]"Read a god-awful book, start drinking just to cope...
Christian advises Ana to forget what he said about Elliot, because apparently someone's sexuality can totally ruin someone else's good time. Ana thinks Elliot's sexual past is why he teases Christian:
"He really has no idea about my past. I told you, my family assumed I was gay. Celibate, but gay."
I giggle and begin to relax in his arms. "I thought you were celibate. How wrong I was." I wrap my arms around him, marveling at the ridiculousness of Christian's being gay.Yeah, how fucking ridiculous! A gorgeous guy who is attractive to women being GAY.
I'm sorry, what was going on? I blacked out when all my blood rushed to my lady parts, and it was hard to get a breath what with my mouth automatically opening. And how did I get down here on my knees in the first place? What was my name again? Where am I?
Ana asks Christian why he has a place in Aspen, and he says it was because he was waiting for her and didn't know it yet. So... he was waiting for the woman of his dreams, someone he could whisk away to Aspen, where she's not allowed to do anything outside of the house because it might be too dangerous? Why not just stay at home and save the gas money?
"Christian, you are the state lottery, the cure for cancer, and the three wishes from Aladdin's lamp all rolled into one."
For my first wish, kill them. Kill them both.
After some more talk about how Christian is such a catch but also a damaged little boy or whatever, there's a section break, and it's raining outside.
We are sitting around the dark wood table in the kitchen, having consumed an Italian feast of a mixed antipasto, prepared by Mrs. Bentley, and a bottle or two of Frascati. I'm replete and little buzzed from the alcohol.Antipasto isn't a feast. It's a starter. Now, you may be thinking that two bottles of wine between six people isn't enough to get a routine alcoholic like Ana buzzed, but they're at a higher altitude now. See also, Jenny after ONE DRINK at the Harlequin sales conference in Colorado Springs.
"There goes our hike," Elliot mutters, sounding vaguely relieved. Kate scowls at him. Something is definitely up with them. They have been relaxed with all of us but not with each other.You mean, not as relaxed as, say, a woman who feels "shy" around her own husband, Ana?
It takes about a page for them to decide that the guys are going to go fishing (I know I have some city slickers who read this blog, so let me assure you, fishing in the rain is not as stupid as it sounds), the girls are going to go shopping, and Elliot is going to go buy a watch battery.
Ana, Kate, and Mia go into a boutique where they get Ana to try on a really skimpy dress.
I glance down at The Dress in my hand. Dress is perhaps an overstatement. It's backless and very short, but Mia has declared it a winner, perfect for dancing the night away. Apparently, I need shoes, too, and a large chunky necklace, which we'll source next. Rolling my eyes, I reflect once more on how lucky I am to have Caroline Acton, my own personal shopper.She's actually Christian's personal shopper, remember, and bought all of Ana's clothes based on Christian's tastes. But because Bella doesn't like shopping (and this scene is clearly the stand-in for the prom dress shopping scene in Twilight), Ana can't, either. While Mia and Kate try on clothes, Ana looks out the window and sees:
Through the boutique window I'm distracted by the sight of Elliot. He has appeared on the other side of the leafy main street, climbing out of a large Audi. He dives into a store as if to duck out of the rain. Looks like a jewelry store... maybe he's looking fo that watch battery. He emerges a few minutes later and not alone - with a woman.
Fuck! He's talking to Gia! What the hell is she doing here?
As I watch, they hug briefly and she holds her head back, laughing animatedly at something he says. He kisses her cheek and then runs to the waiting car. She turns and heads down the street, and I gape after her. What was that about?Mia and Kate don't see this exchange, and when they come out, Ana doesn't tell them about it. Which is a wise move on her part, I think. They go to pay for their stuff, and Ana gets all weird about the sales assistant:
The young sales assistant - who has more gloss coating her lips than I have ever seen in one place - smiles at me. "That'll be eight hundred and fifty dollars."
What? For this scrap of material! I blink at her and meekly hand over my black Amex.
"Mrs. Grey," Ms. Lip Gloss purrs.Why is Ana so snarky about this woman?! There is absolutely no reason this exchange had to be included in the book at all! We don't care about her purchasing the dress. There is more important (relatively speaking) shit going on right now! The only reason E.L. James included the sales girl with the lip gloss was to give her heroine yet another chance to openly disparage another female! That's all! It's there ONLY FOR THE MISOGYNY.
They go and buy thousand dollar shoes and an eighty dollar necklace, and Kate and Ana discuss how uncomfortable Ana is with spending money, because that hasn't been talked about enough in this chapter. Ana asks Kate how things are with Elliot, but Kate doesn't want to talk about it, and Ana starts mentally referring to him as Elliot Manwhore Grey, because there isn't enough misogyny in this book, either.
Back at the house, Kate makes strawberry daiquiris and they sit around in front of the fire. IN AUGUST. I checked in with my husband and read him this passage:
Once back at the house, Kate decides we deserve cocktails after our shopping extravaganza and whips up some strawberry daiquiris for us. We curl up on the sitting room couches in front of the blazing log fire.Now, keep in mind that Mr. Jen is a bit... fiery, before you read his response: "Everything about that sounds awful. The imagery of strawberry daiquiris in front of a fire makes me uncomfortable. Imagine trying to suck down a goddamned sweet as shit daiquiri in front of a goddamned bonfire in your goddamned living room in the middle of the goddamned summer. Boy is that classy! And who goes to fucking Aspen in August? Does he have the shitty slot for the time share?"
I pretty much have nothing to add to that.
"Elliot has just been a little distant lately," Kate murmurs, gazing into the flames. Kate and I finally have a moment to ourselves as Mia puts away her purchases.
"And I think I'm in trouble for getting you in trouble."
"You heard about that?"
"Yes. Christian called Elliot; Elliot called me."EXCUSE ME? Let's examine the reality of what Ana calls "Cocktailgate." The actual reality, not the one the author wants us to accept as fact.
- Ana decides to go out and have drinks with Kate.
- Christian gets mad at Kate because Ana decided to go out.
- Christian calls Elliot and confronts him.
- Because Elliot is dating, and therefore owns, Kate.
- Elliot gets mad at Kate on his brother's behalf.
- Because Elliot is dating, and therefore owns, Kate.
Now that we've got that all taken care of, what does Ana feel is the real problem with Kate and Elliot's relationship?
I resolve not to mention Gia, though I might mention it to the manwhore himself. How dare he mess with my friend's affections like this?No, Ana. Elliot isn't messing with Kate's affections, Christian is. He's trying to drive a wedge between Kate and his brother because he doesn't like Kate. And it would be a great one-two punch to Ana's friendship with Kate. "You can't see her anymore because of how things fell apart with my brother." Then Jose and Kate would both be out of the picture. He's systematically cutting her off from everyone she knows.
Ana goes out to the garage get more wood for the fire, where she runs into Elliot. He suggests she try out the dirt bikes, and she says no because, of course, Christian wouldn't like her to do something dangerous:
Memories of Ethan bravely endeavoring to teach me how to ride last summer flash through my mind. Unconsciously, I rub my arm where I badly bruised it in a fall.Oh, you mean when you were Bella Swan and Jacob taught you how to ride dirt bikes? But notice how Ana is a far superior wife compared to Bella; even though Bella knew Edward wouldn't want her riding dirt bikes (because Edward Cullen was also a controlling ass in the beginning of that series), she did it anyway. How DARE she.
"Christian has, um... issues about my safety. I shouldn't."
"You always do what he says?" Elliot has a wicked sparkle in his baby-blue eyes, and I see a glimmer of the bad boy... the bad boy Kate has fallen in love with. The bad boy from Detroit.That last part is so silly. Elliot was a child when they moved away from Detroit. It's not like they were hanging out in street gangs or something. The most "bad boy" thing Elliot probably did in Detroit is color on the walls.
Christian and Ethan get back from fishing:
"You're wet," I murmur.
"It was raining. [...]"
Christian wonders why everyone is in the garage, because at this point, Kate has come in, too.
"Ana came to fetch some wood." Elliot arches an eyebrow. Somehow he manages to make that sentence sound smutty. "I tried to tempt her to take a ride." He is a master of double entendre.So, he's not only making innuendos about his brother's wife in front of his brother, but he's doing it in front of his own girlfriend, who is also Ana's best friend. Elliot is just as much a catch as his brother is, I guess.
"Listen, I"m all for standing around discussion what Ana did next, but shall we go back inside?" Kate snaps. She stoops down, snatches up two logs, and turns on her heel, stomping toward the door. Oh shit. Kate is mad - but I know it's not at me.At least one character in this shit show can hang their anger on the right peg. JeSUS.
Just in case you were looking for resolution on the whole dirt bike thing:
You can ride a motorcycle?" he asks, his voice laced with disbelief.
"Not very well. Ethan taught me."
His eyes frost immediately. "you made the right decision," he says, his voice much cooler.I look forward to book four of this series, in which Christian learns that Ana had a male math teacher in seventh grade, then has the the guy killed and Ana's memory of numbers erased so that she has never learned anything from any man other than Christian.
"[...] You're wet... Let me run you a bath."That's not really going to take care of the "wet" problem now, is it?
Ana runs a bath, but she and Christian have sex while it's filling up. It's off-screen sex, and we come back from a section break to find:
"Shit, the water!" I struggle to sit up, all postorgasmic and dazed.
Christian doesn't release me.
"Christian, the bath!" I gaze down at him from my prone position across his chest.
He laughs. "Relax - it's a wet room."Yeah, relax, Ana. Listen to Christian "I care sooooooo fucking much about Africa" Grey, running a ton of fresh water all over the place while all over the world children drink contaminated water and get horrible diseases.
We sit at opposite ends of the bath, which is very full - so full that whenever we move, water laps over the side and splashes to the floor.
I wouldn't be so annoyed by the water wasting thing unless he hadn't made it such a sanctimonious point about how much he cares about developing countries and their food and water and making things sustainable for the environment blah blah blah. Is it too much to ask for just one thing about this series to be consistent? If he had just said, "There's good money in pretending about this environmentalism bullshit, so that's why I do it," then I could understand the water wasting and the giant, petroleum guzzling yacht trips.
Ana tells Christian that she saw Gia in town, and Christian says he thinks she has a place in Aspen, and he's not worried that Elliot is cheating on Kate:
"Ana, they're just friends. I think Elliot is pretty stuck on Kate." He pauses, then adds more quietly, "In fact, I know he's pretty stuck on her." And he gives me his I-have-no-idea-why look.
"Kate is gorgeous." I bristle, championing my friend.
He snorts. "Still glad it was you who fell into my office."Just in case you were worried that Ana saying something nice about Kate might make Christian fall head over heels in love with her, rest easy. The author reassures us once again that Edward Cullen is fully, truly in love with E.L. James and not some blonde hussy. Erm, I meant... oh, never mind.
It's time to go out and party. Let's see how Ana looks:
My hair is full and straight, my eyes ringed with kohl, my lips scarlet red. I look... hot. I'm all legs, especially in the high-heeled Manolos and my indecently short dress. I need Christian to approve, though I have a horrible feeling he won't like so much of my flesh exposed.Because she's a fucking prisoner in her own marriage, she picks up her BlackBerry and emails the warden. The warden who, by the way, is in the same house, but god forbid a chapter go by without a page long email exchange between the two of them.
As I read his e-mail, the bedroom door opens, and Christian freezes on the threshold. His mouth pops open and his eyes widen.
Holy crap... this could go either way.
"Well," I whisper.
"Ana, you look... Wow."
"You like it?"
"Yes, I guess so."Oh Chedward, but you do know how to turn a girl's head.
He stands behind her and makes her look in the mirror while he hikes her dress up and fingers her, talking all the while about how short her skirt is:
"This is mine," he murmurs in my ear. Closing his eyes, he moves his finger slowly in and out of me. "I don't want anyone else to see this."This is another one of those disappointing lines that could have been hot, if we didn't know that by "this" Chedward doesn't mean her vagina in the context of their D/s relationship, but literally every single facet of her life in the context of their fucked up, controlling marriage.
But listen, everybody. Remember when we kept hearing from various anonymous commenters that in the third book, Christian actually gets better and is totally swoon worthy? This is the chapter where it happens:
"You approve?" I whisper.
"No, but I'm not going to stop you from wearing it. You look stunning, Anastasia."
Here, you might need this.
After a section break (and after I recovered from my shock at Christian not demanding Ana don a full body burlap suit complete with hood), everyone on the Aspen trip is waiting for dessert in the restaurant.
Christian seems at ease. He's been talking animatedly with Ethan. They obviously bonded over the fly-fishing. They're talking about psychology, mainly. Ironically, Christian sounds the more knowledgeable.Of course he does. Ethan is only going for what, his masters? Of course Christian "know it all" Grey knows more about psychology than Ethan. Ana chalks this up to his numerous therapists. Is that how it works? You just have enough interactions with someone and you become an expert at their profession? Congratulate me, everyone, I have just become a medical doctor AND a bartender.
Ana thinks Kate and Elliot seem like they're not having a great time:
Have they had a fight? What's eating him? Is it that woman?
Wherein the blogger contemplates the appropriateness and maturity of a rimming joke.
Ana is still real, real hung up on Gia:
I glance at the entrance, half expecting to see Gia calmly saunter her well-groomed ass across the restaurant to us.God, Ana, why are you so interested in how Gia grooms her ass?
You know, it occurs to me that "well-groomed" is used as an insult quite a bit in these books. That's a really bizarre thing to look down on someone for, isn't it? "Oooh, I hate Marjorie, she's always so clean looking and nice smelling! The nerve of her, I hear she brushes her teeth twice a day and puts on clean socks. The cow."
Then Elliot proposes to Kate with the corniest, most fake-sounding proposal in the history of shitty writing:
"My beautiful Kate, I love you. Your grace, your beauty, and your fiery spirit have no equal, and you have captured my heart. Spend your life with me. Marry me."And naturally, Ana's reaction is:
Holy shit!Thus ends yet another chapter. But now I'm over halfway done! HUZZAH AND HURRAH ALL AROUND!